I like Incredible Expeditions, but it feels a bit awkward and unpolished in some areas.
I like the concepts of having a ship, captain, crew, and resources (deck). I like exploring locations and overcoming seemingly insurmountable encounters. I’m fine with the deck building, the captain and crew abilities, and the resource tokens. I’m less happy with the temporary resources provided by crew and the artificial resting everyone is forced to do at the beginning of the game to build decks and recruit a crew.
I don’t like how clumsy it feels to generate a ton of resources you don’t need as a side effect of generating a ton of resources you do need. For example, exhausting your crew to generate 10 temporary heroism may also generate 14 skulduggery that goes to waste. It makes it feel like the game wasn’t finely tuned. Not an accusation, this is just the way it feels to me when I waste a ton of resources created as a byproduct of my creating the resource I do need.
The game starts with everyone resting to make purchases at the market and recruiting crew. This feels like the game wasn’t balanced to accommodate the player’s starting resources, but instead asks the player to use a game mechanics that doesn’t quite make sense with the theme. Resting before you get started? Strange. This is even worse for cooperative games when you have a limited amount of rest actions. More on that later.
Despite all of that, the competitive rules do feel pretty solid, but the solo and cooperative rules feel less so.
I don’t dig the limited rest action and market phase in the solo/cooperative game. While I’m sure its the product of a lot of hard work and playtesting, it feels too much like a game mechanism and not a part of the game itself. I would have preferred some way of generating a competitor in our race to find Atlantis. Maybe if I just use a token that moves one step closer to Atlantis each time I rest, it would feel more thematic.
Lastly, and this is the most subjective of all my complaints, I’m not a fan of the graphic design, which seems like the efforts of a talented Photoshop enthusiast. I’m as much as a sucker for Steampunk as the next guy, but the theme doesn’t have the polish that makes me fall in love with a game. For instance, the card backs all seem like the designer couldn’t decide on which design looked best and ultimately decided to use them all at once. The custom die is completely unusable — even if the numbers could be read at even short distances, I’m pretty sure it’s not designed to roll properly. Luckily, I think it’s very rarely needed, but I’ve replaced it. I applaud the design team for their efforts on this massive project –it’s insanely difficult to pull off a project this large, even as a seasoned professional.
I’m sure I’ll get a few enjoyable plays out of this one, but I won’t be terribly sad if I can trade it for something else.